Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's Vocabulary Time.

I finally stumbled across the text of that DHS "rightwing extremist" press release.

Other than the obvious problems, one little issue stood out, and for the record I'd like to set it straight. "Historic" is not the same as "historical." If (as I assume the good folks at DHS do) consider the election to be noteworthy in the annals of history (beyond the election of any other POTUS), the proper term is "historic." Perhaps continuous interchange of the two has rendered them synonymous in our living language. Perhaps we should make their, there, and they're similarly identical in usage, or accept the dropping of vowels to fit messages into a 250-character SMS text. This is not a "living language" so much as sloth-accelerated entropy.

"Historic" refers to a noteworthy event. "Historical" is an adjective describing something pertaining to history, regardless of its lasting significance. A "historical society" is a convocation of people interested in history. If the society in question becomes somehow noteworthy, it is a historic historical society. A historical presidential election is merely one that can be proven to have occurred. I suppose in this sense DHS is factually accurate. However, the context usually offered with the phrase suggests 'historic' would be more appropriate.

For a similar dichotomy, I recommend a certain scene in The Boondock Saints involving "sssssymbolism."

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